Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Henry de Lacy II

If you've been reading this blog since the first post, or have read the relevant posts on my other blog, you will know I have a fondness for Flying Scotsman. Now you may thing that if, as a child, I was going to have a photo of a steam train on my bedroom wall that it would be of Flying Scotsman. You would, however, be wrong. The photo on my bedroom wall was of Henry de Lacy II.

My Dad took the photo, and thanks to my Mum careful labelling each slide, I know that it was shot on the 16th of April 1983 at Middleton Railway; note that the slide is in better condition than this image gives it credit, but as my Dad has borrowed my slide scanner this was scanned using the slide adaptor on my flatbed scanner which doesn't produce particularly good images. I'm not sure why this particular photo should have ended up on my wall but it could actually be the first steam engine I saw in the flesh. Of all the slides of steam engines my parents have recently given me (and which formed part of the inspiration for this blog) it's got the earliest date so there is a good chance this was taken on my first trip to a steam railway.

Henry de Lacy II was built by Hudswell Clarke and Company in 1917 for use at Kirkstall Forge in Leeds where it spent it's entire working life. Apparently it was the second of four locomotives to be named after Baron Henry de Laci of Pontefract, who, in 1152, allowed Cistercian monks to found an abbey adjacent to the site of Kirkstall Forge. Interestingly it is the only locomotive at Middleton Railway to have arrived under it's own power having used the mainline network to travel from the forge to the railway when, in 1968, the forge donated it to the railway.

Henry de Lacy II can still be found at Middleton Railway, although now as a static exhibit in the engine shed -- if you take care to follow the health and safety notices you can even visit it's cab. Looking at the old photo I think it was probably a static exhibit back in 1983 as there is a board placed across the chimney. Either way it's actually looking a lot better now after a new coat of paint.

Monday, August 20, 2012

The Dining Car

Back in 2010 we had a railway themed holiday based in Inverness. One of the places we visited was the Strathspey Steam Railway which runs for ten miles along the route of the old Highland Railway from Aviemore to Broomhill. On the day we visited it was raining heavily but even so the views from the railway are spectacular. Given that it was wet and cold the offer of tea and coffee on the train was both civilized and very welcome. Of course the surroundings for our coffee were not quite as spectacular as on the other train at Aviemore station.

The Royal Scotsman was obviously doing one of it's expensive rail tours, and while it was only half past three in the afternoon the tables had already been laid for the evening meal. I'm sure it's a wonderful way to see Scotland, but it's well out of my price range!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

A Steam Powered Elephant

When we visited Middleton Railway for their 200 Years of Steam gala, as well as a number of visiting old locomotives they also had a steam elephant on show! This steam elephant is actually a working replica of a very old locomotive.

Current thinking is that the original was built in 1815 by John Buddle and William Chapman for Wallsend Colliery which was situated on the north bank of the River Tyne. Details on when it was built and how it worked are sketchy as it is only known from a few paintings. This replica was built at Beamish for use on the Pockerley Waggonway.

I did take a short video clip of it moving, but it didn't turn out very well (I forgot that the expensive camera I own takes rubbish videos, while the cheap camera takes excellent videos) so I'm not going to show you it in motion. Suffice it to say that it's by far the strangest looking steam engine I've ever seen.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Working In The Wild West

In my previous post I showed you one modification that had been made to the L&YR 0-4-0ST, aka the "Pug", in order for it to work under the Liverpool Overhead Railway. Well today I'm going to cover the other modification, one which was needed to allow the pug to work in the Wild West Aintree.

In 1916 one of the places the pugs were being used was the munitions factory in Aintree. Now the last thing you want in a munitions factory would be rogue sparks from the chimney of a steam engine. The solution was to fit wild west style spark arrestors. Given that I have a model of a pug with a smoke deflector I thought I'd try and produce one with a spark arrestor as well.

I found two photos of the engines with spark arrestors fitted and used these to build a model version in 4mm to the foot scale to match the Hornby model I already owned. Here you can see the photos I used for inspiration as well as similar shots of the completed model.

It's not a perfect model but as a first attempt I'm happy with how it turned out especially as it involved something I've never tried before: 3D printing. I used Blender (a free, open-source 3D modelling application) to create a 3D model based upon the two photos. I then uploaded the model to Shapeways, and ordered a printed copy which I then painted. Here you can see the step-by-step photos: a computer rendering, the printed object, primed ready for painting, and the final painted item.

While I'm happy with the shape, there are a number of things wrong with the final model. Firstly as you can probably tell from the second and third images the sides of the model are very rough. This is an unfortunate side effect of the printing process. Because of the fine detail (remember the whole model is just 15mm tall and 12mm at it's widest) I had to print it using the Frosted Ultra Detail material. The printing process essentially creates the object in layers by depositing small amounts of material which are then hardened before the next layer is printed. Where there is an overhang, a wax substance is deposited to provide support. This is then melted away after printing has finished to leave the final model. The problem is that this can cause slight pitting to the surface of the model. If you look closely enough you can see that the top of the model is smoother (it's almost see through in the second image) because it didn't require support material. So as the top covers a smaller area what I'll do when I print it again is flip the 3D model upside down so that the large sides don't require any support material.

The main problem though is that I badly messed up painting it and actually broke off some of the finer detail. Everything was going well to start with. I'd washed it in some strong washing up water to remove the last traces of the wax and then primed it using an aerosol (the same as I did the wagon I built recently). This worked well and allowed me to see the finer detail better than on the plain model. Unfortunately i then made the mistake of trying to spray paint it black and ended up with way too much paint, so much so that I obscured all the detail. I stripped the paint back (neat detol works well for this even if it does stink), but in the process the clasps on either side broke of. Now given how tiny they are I'm not really surprised. I then re-painted the model by hand but then compounded the problem by trying to spray on some satin varnish only for lots of white dots to appear (this happened with the black wagon as well, although not the red one so I'm wondering if it's the black paint that's the problem not the varnish). So in the end I've repainted it by hand and forgone the varnish, which means it's gloss instead of matt. So I will at some point have another copy printed and will try again to paint it properly.

Even with the painting disaster I'm happy with how it turned out. I'm sure I'll show you it again when I've had it re-printed but as the postage costs mean you really need to order multiple items (or much larger items) it will have to wait until I have something else I want to print -- I have some other models that I'm working on but some of them are proving a little tricky to finish.

Monday, August 13, 2012

The Docker's Umbrella

The L&YR built 0-4-0ST, AKA the "Pug", which I blogged about before, was such a versatile shunting engine that it could be found in a number of locations across the railway network. When working in some locations though it had to be modified slightly.

As far as I know there were two main modifications made to these locomotives but today I want to talk about just one of them. As you can see in this photo (lifted from Wikipedia) a metal disc on a pole has been fitted to the front of the locomotive. The disc could actually rotate and would normally have been seen positioned directly over the chimney. The idea being that it would reflect the smoke back downwards onto the engine. In general this seems like a daft idea; you usually want the smoke to clear upwards and out of the way so that you could see where you were going. There was, however, one place where it was desirable to try and keep the smoke from wafting upwards -- Liverpool Docks.

Now I doubt the dock workers really wanted to be surrounded by lots of steam and smoke reflected back down at them, but criss-crossing the docks was the Liverpool Overhead Railway. How do I know that's the reason for the smoke deflectors being fitted, well an information sheet told me so!

Having said previously that I didn't know of any L&YR locomotive ever having been produced in L&YR livery in OO gauge I then came across an eBay auction for just such a model -- a limited edition of just 100 pieces. As you can see from the photo this is the same underlying model as the BR liveried "Pug" I already own. The difference of course is that it's painted in the L&YR goods livery and with the smoke deflector fitted. As I mentioned before the tooling for this model has passed through a number of hands and while the BR liveried version is sold by Hornby this is actually a Dapol model.

Of course I couldn't resist this model and so I placed a bid for it which turned out to be the highest bid so I do now have at least one L&YR liveried model for my layout. Now the purists will notice that there are a couple of problems with this model. Firstly the smoke deflector isn't really in the right place; it should be a lot higher up and the pole should be attached to the top of the chimney. I'm guessing this was done so it would fit in the same polystyrene box as the normal model and in my opinion doesn't really matter. The more glaring inconsistencies are due to the fact that the underlying model represents the engine from the LMS years onwards when it had a number plate fitted to the smokebox door as well as a second sandbox placed on the running plate next to the tool box. Neither of these would have been present on an L&YR liveried locomotive -- which explains why the number plate is blank!

So what did the information sheet that came with this model say about the smoke deflector:
Because a large section of the Liverpool dock lines ran directly underneath the elevated sections of the Liverpool Overhead Railway and the directors of that company felt that undue amounts of smoke, steam, sulphur and other impurities would cause deterioration of the steel decking.

So why did we christen the model the Docker's Umbrella Pug? Because the smoke deflector did indeed look like an umbrella?

No! The reason is that the Liverpool Overhead Railway which ran close to the dockside for miles was a very convenient shelter from the rain for men loading or unloading the ships.
So now you know.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Two Or Twice

I realised that while I've spoken at length about the locomotives and rolling stock I can run, that I haven't talked about the actual layout I'm running them on since it was a basic oval with a single siding. So I thought I'd show you the current layout and use this post as an excuse to tell you about a piece of software I've found really useful.

There are quite a few applications that can help you design a layout but of all the ones I've tried only one has turned out to be easy to use and flexible enough to be useful; AnyRail. AnyRail supports most common makes of track in almost any gauge you could want to model in. It also allows you to mix and match track within a single layout which is useful if you have multiple makes of track in the same gauge, or if you want to use different gauges within the same layout (maybe you want to model both a standard gauge line and a narrow gauge branch line). AnyRail isn't free, although you can use it with no limitations for layouts consisting of 50 track pieces or less. Given how good it is I don't think £35 is too much to ask though and I've happily bought a license. It's currently only available for Windows but it runs perfectly under Ubuntu using Wine.

So here is my current layout drawn using AnyRail. As you can see it's moved on a little bit since last time.

Currently the layout is still only layed out temporarily on the dinning table, so I'm limited to settrack (I'd need to pin flexible track down for it to maintain it's shape). Fortunately that means I'm free to experiment and I'm sure I'll be able to reuse most of the track when I eventually get around to building a more permanent layout. Anyway with this layout I was aiming for a number of things. Firstly I wanted to be able to run more than one train at once and as I'm not using DCC this means two separate loops. I also fancied the idea of turning the sidings into a small shunting puzzle. Finally I also wanted a long continuous run for a single train.

Now given that I'm currently limited to a 6 foot by 4 foot board this was asking for quite a lot. In the end I've actually managed to pack everything in. The sidings are very short but using the pug I can actually shunt without moving out onto the inner loop. The two loops can be run independently for two separate trains, but if I set the points correctly then I can have a single train run around one loop and then the other before returning to where it started for a longer continuous run (hence the title of this blog post -- I can have two loops or run twice around). This also has the added benefit of allowing me to easily move trains from one loop to another when required.

I'm not sure how much more I could possibly pack into a temporary layout on a 6 foot by 4 foot board but I do have some ideas!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Working Brakes

So as I previously mentioned I've been building another coal wagon. This is an 8 plank, 12 ton open coal wagon again built from a Parkside Dundas kit, painted with Humbrol paints and detailed with Modelmaster transfers.

As you can probably tell this was a lot more complex to paint than the all black Lofthouse Colliery wagon. I started by masking off the undercarriage and spraying the top red. I then reversed the masking and sprayed the bottom black. Unfortunately my skills with the masking tape weren't perfect so I used small pots of matching paint to touch up those areas were paint had leaked under the tape. Once this was completely dry I then painted in all the metalwork detail on the upper section in black. Which was time consuming but well worth while.

The transfers still aren't perfect; some didn't even go on straight but wouldn't move without risking tearing them, and from the photo it's clear to see there are still areas where there is air under the transfers. Clearly I'm going to have to work on perfecting adding the transfers, but when viewed from further away than the camera was it looks fairly decent and I'm certainly happy with it.

The one problem, as alluded to in the title, is that the model brakes actually work! I've obviously not quite aligned the brake detail properly and with the extra layers of paint and varnish one set was close enough to a wheel to stop it rotating unless I added more weight to the wagon. I've sanded the break block back and touched up the paint and it seems to be going round now, but I'll have to keep an eye on it and possibly file it back even further.

Yet again the transfers I used were to make the wagon appear local. This time I'm even closer to home. When I take the train to work the first place it calls is Silkstone Common before it heads towards Barnsley stopping first at Dodworth. I'm not sure where the Old Silkstone colliery was but it can't have been too far away.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Eight Days A Week

Okay so I promised to stop with the musical puns but having used a Rolling Stones track I thought I should balance things out with a Beatles track! The title should really read "Eight Days A Year".

The Middleton Railway currently runs from the edge of Middleton Park to Moor Road in Hunslet. Of course when it was a working railway it continued on into the centre of Leeds. The line into Leeds, known as the Balm Road branch, still exists but in all the times I've visited the railway or been past I've never seen it in use. The problem is that on leaving the station it crosses Moor Road. There is no level crossing, no barriers, and no warning lights just the rails embedded in the tarmac.

When we visited the railway in June the branch was open and in use. Traffic was stopped simply by two men with red flags, a bit like a school crossing. When we boarded the train for the short trip down the branch I overheard a conversation between one of the railways volunteers and another visitor. It turns out that the reason the branch isn't used very often is that because of the nature of the road crossing they are only allowed to take fare paying passengers across it on eight days during the year. If they wanted to use it more often than that then they would have to pay to upgrade the safety of the crossing, something that they can't afford.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Scale Speed

When doing any scale modelling it is important to stick to the same scale throughout (as much as possible anyway) otherwise things start to look a bit odd. I'm currently modelling in OO gauge which means 4mm to the foot or a scale of 1:76 (although the track width is slightly wrong but that's a whole other kettle of fish). One thing that I never really considered before was scaling the speed of a locomotive correctly. Now I've always known that most of the engines run way too fast to be accurate, but I didn't really have any way of knowing just how inaccurate they were. My older locomotives tend to move at a more sedate pace than newer models. For example, the small 0-4-0ST that came with the starter set I bought goes off like the proverbial rocket.

So in an effort to try and model things accurately I set about working out how I could measure the scale speed of the various locomotives I own. Now this involves a bit of maths but it's nothing too complicated, honest!

Firstly I'm going to work in millimetres as I find both the maths easier and I have a nice accurate steel ruler that bizarrely doesn't show inches. This means that I'll end up calculating the speed in kilometres per hour (kph) although it's easy to convert kph to miles per hour (mph) for comparison with real steam engines:

mph = kph * 0.621371

Now firstly as were are going to calculate kilometres per hour we need to know what a kilometre of track at a specific scale would measure in millimetres.

scaleKilometer = 1000000/scale

We simply take a kilometres worth of millimeters and divide it by the scale (in the case of OO that would be 76 meaning I would need 13157.89mm of track to model a kilometre). Now that we know how many millimetres of track represent a kilometre we can work out what the distance between any two points on our layout represents

scaleDistance = distance/scaleKilometer

In my case I know that my two markers are 74 millimetres apart which means that they represent 0.005624 of a kilometre or more usefully 5.624 metres.

Now if I time the locomotive between the two markers I can finally calculate the speed by simply multiplying the distance the real locomotive would have travelled by the fraction of an hour that it took to cover the measured distance.

kph = scaleDistance*(3600000/time)

As an example, if it took 2 seconds to cover 74 millimetres that would be 2000 milliseconds which would be 1/1800 of an hour, which means that the real speed of the locomotive would be 10.1232 kilometres per hour or 6.29 miles per hour.

Now there are a number of websites that simplify the maths by providing you with a form where you simply fill in the distance, time and modelling scale and it gives you the speed, but manually measuring time with a stopwatch is never going to be particularly accurate, certainly not if you are trying to measure the speed of a fast moving locomotive.

The obvious solution (given my background) was to build a speed trap that could accurately measure the time taken for a locomotive to travel a set distance. I won't go into the technical details of how I built the speed trap here but if you want to build your own scale speed trap then I've posted full instructions over on one of my other blogs. All you really need to know is that I can set a speed limit and then a green light comes on if the locomotive is below that speed, otherwise a red light comes on. The actual speed is also fed back to the computer.

The photo to the left shows the current version installed on my layout. Now I know that it isn't pretty, but all the electronics apart from the two small sensors on the track could be hidden away off the layout so for a prototype of what I'll eventually include in my layout I'm happy with how it's turned out. In the photo you can also see one of my other locomotives which I haven't mentioned before. This is Mallard in BR green livery. Given Mallard's history she seemed the perfect locomotive with which to test a speed trap!

So how fast can the locomotives I own (or at least the ones I've blogged about so far) actually travel. I decided to measure the speed of each locomotive under two conditions: the locomotive on it's own and when pulling a train, which in this instance was made up of four LNER teak panelled coaches. In both cases I allowed each to run around the layout ten times and then took the highest recorded speeds which were...
Speed in mph
Engine OnlyA Train
CR 0-4-0ST163.38128.37
Flying Scotsman110.3697.52
L&YR 0-4-0ST93.8856.96
Duchess of Abercorn84.4367.97

Now I think we can all agree that there is something seriously wrong with those numbers, i.e. running the locomotives at full speed means they are moving way two fast. Malard holds the world record for a steam locomotive at 126mph so nothing should be travelling faster than that, and certainly not a Caledonian Railways tank engine!

One thing to note from that table is that while it is sorted by decreasing speed of the loco only run, it's also ordered in the second column apart from the L&YR 0-4-0ST. The reason for this is that the engine is so small and light it doesn't have the weight to really pull the coaches, you could see the wheels slipping on the track. If I added some weight to the locomotive it could probably pull the coaches faster even though it would be heavier.

So now I know that I really don't want to run any of the locomotives anywhere near full power, unless I want to try and recreate Mallards record breaking run. Once I've decided exactly what my layout will include (rural or urban etc.) I can decide on a reasonable top speed and programme the speed trap accordingly so that I can keep an eye on the speeds and make the model as accurate as possible.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Wagons In Black Satin

Having now reached the end (sorry I'll stop with the bad puns... honest) I thought I'd show you the completed wagon. As you can see it's had transfers applied, been varnished and had couplings fitted since you last saw it.

A plain wagon would have been boring so I knew I would want to add transfers but I also knew that I wanted it to represent a wagon from somewhere reasonably local. Fortunately Modelmaster produce a wide range of transfers for private owner coal wagons so there were quite a few local options to choose from. I picked Lofthouse Colliery simply because it recommended applying them to an all black wagon, which, as I mentioned before, simplified the painting. The transfers were easy to use although I'm not entirely happy with how they went on. The raised areas of the wagon tended, in some places, to trap air which I couldn't remove no matter how hard I tried.

The final step (other than sticking on the couplings which is the work of a moment) involved varnishing. Varnishing serves two purposes. First it protects the paint and transfers from wearing off when the model is handled, but it also reduces the shiny surface left from the gloss paint (which is needed to help the transfers stick properly). As with the primer and paint I used an aerosol of Humbrol satin varnish. Whilst it was easy to apply (easier than the paint anyway), I'm a little disappointed that in a few places it has left little white dots. It's unclear exactly what has caused this although a little research on the web suggests that I may not have had the varnish warm enough and well mixed.

I'm fairly happy with the result and I've learnt a few things which I can apply to the next model I build and paint. I have an 8 plank, 12 ton coal wagon (also from Parkside Dundas) that I'm in the process of putting together. This will be a slightly more complex project as it won't be painted black.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Paint It, Black

Having left the primer to dry for 24 hours I moved onto the next stage of construction and painted the wagon. For this first attempt at modelling I made life easy for myself by painting the entire wagon black. This meant I didn't need to bother with masking tape etc. but as you will see in later posts this will still lead to a historically accurate wagon.

Just like with the primer I used an aerosol can to paint the wagon. Whilst this was easier than applying the paint with a brush it wasn't as straightforward as spraying on the primer. The paint is thicker and I thought it was going to obscure a lot of the detail. Now it's dry I'm fairly happy with the level of detail, but I had to give it at least three coats to get a proper covering of paint.

It's difficult to see in the photo but I used a gloss paint. While I don't want to end up with a shiny model, I'm intending to use waterslide transfers to detail the wagon, and these are best applied to a gloss surface, as you will see in the next exciting instalment!